Kamala Harris is currently the most famous person of color to hail from Oakland. 

Oakland hasn’t had this much civic pride since the Golden State Warriors won the basketball championship. 

Speaking of which, here she is with the custom “Madame VP” Golden State Warriors jersey. It has the number 49 on the back, a nod to the fact that she is now the 49th Vice President of the United States.

So as we bask in the glory of being the birthplace of Madam Vice President, let’s remember some of the other trailblazers of color from Oakland.

Ironically, Oakland is the city that Donald Trump spoke disparagingly about during his campaigning. And now Oakland is in the White House and he may be on the way to the Big House.

The following notable people have either been born in Oakland, spent their formative years here or consider Oakland their adopted home town.  We also include a few notables who are from the Greater Bay Area proper.

In case you don’t recognize the names, they are hyperlinked to either their Wikipedia page or website. 


Alicia Garza – (Black Lives Matter Co-Founder)

Angela Davis 

The Black Panther Party  (I realize this is a group, not a person) 

Cesar Chavez (San Jose) 


Ron Dellums

Barbara Lee

Willie Brown (San Francisco)


H.E.R. (Vallejo/San Francisco)


MC Hammer

Shelia E

Too Short

Sly and the Family Stone  (Vallejo/San Francisco)

Tower of Power

Martha Wash 

The Pointer Sisters

Sylvester (San Francisco) 

Carlos Santana

Raphael Saadiq 

Tony, Toni, Tone


Ryan Coogler 


Mahershala Ali  

Danny Glover (San Francisco) 

Daveed Diggs

Mark Curry 

Whoppi Goldberg

Bruce Lee

Shemar Moore 

Rita Moreno (Berkeley) 


Ayesha Curry

These other Black business owners might not be household names, but just like Kamala Harris, they are trailblazers and a few are the “only” one in their respective fields. 


Nzilani Glass Conservation


Harris Hoisting


Amy Tan 

Ishmael Reed

Alice Walker 

Maybe one day there will be a permanent installation in a museum or cultural center to recognize all of these individuals.